I’m so lucky; my life is filled with everyday heroes.
I work with people who every day make a positive difference to other people’s lives, and some days, save lives, just by noticing and caring.
I know people who are heroic in just living with the situations they have going on, when every day is a struggle and yet they keep on keeping on.
But this blog is not about those heroes, because it has been those guys in the photo above who have had me in tears in the last week. You see, these two men are my son’s footy coaches. He joined the team over 8 years ago when he was one of the tots you see above,
Another kid’s dad first took M, at a time when youngest son was too young for me to take out at that time of night. I was so grateful to the dad because it was just what M needed at that time when his dad and I were going through an acrimonious divorce. He’s always loved footy and his first word had been ‘ball’ after one of our many games of passing in the garden or football with the dog. Football was his fun.
The pitch is the place where M feels alive. He is focused, determined and committed, never missing training or a match and hating me when something I had planned got in the way. There were times when I deeply resented the cold and the rain and felt sorry that younger son spent so many hours by the side of a pitch watching his brother on a Sunday morning.
Football has given our life rhythm. Training in the week, matches in the weekend, waiting to sign again for the new season.
But there will be no new season. This rhythm has broken. The team has folded. Gutted.
Its no one’s fault, the boys are now young men who have other interests and there just aren’t enough players for the squad, but the announcement last week had me in tears and the last match tonight did too.
You see, these two heroes have been the role models my son needed. They have been reliable, honest, fair and fun. They have supported the lads, encouraged them, talked to them and as they have grown older, played warm up matches with them. They have given so much time to the team for no payment, no awards, no fancy cars or high praise. They have just done it, week in, week out, whatever the weather, they have always been there.
Their wives are also heros. Texting match times, booking, doing paperwork, quietly behind the scenes, making everything run smoothly.
And so too are the parents all of whom, like me, I’m sure have at times dreamed of the day when they didn’t have to layer up for another match on a boggy pitch in mid winter, but who went anyway to support their sons and the team.
And then the lads, who have come and gone over the years with a hard core of regulars as the hub. These youngsters are now fit, handsome, witty young men, who play fair, play well and have made the team what it is. The coaches have been very much a part of their journey from boyhood to the cusp on manhood; critical years.
As I listened to the radio on the way to work today, and heard Radio 4 discussing whether Trump was about to tip us into a nuclear war, it is easy to feel powerless and hopeless and wish that someone would come in and sort it all out. Someone, but not us.
And we can’t sort that situation out, or Syria, or North Korea, but we can do what these coaches have done and be part of something that really matters. Because this hasn’t been just about football, it has been about commitment, belonging, respect and determination. The boys have learned to manage tempers, suck up ref’s decisions they don’t agree with. They have learned to get up again after a tackle, to play again after defeat and to win graciously without making the other team feel bad. Those little boys who used to run the whole length of the pitch with the ball to themselves have learned they don’t need to, and can’t do it all alone. They have learned to trust that someone will have their back and that they can call out and someone will respond. They are fitter, faster, healthier in body and in mind for playing. They have made friends who I hope will last them a lifetime.
I wonder if the coaches ever imagined this journey when they set out on it. Did they ever realise what a difference they could make to so many lives? Everyday heroes with jobs and families and bills to pay and cars to run, doing what they could to make the world a better place.
They are nothing special and yet extraordinary because they rose to the call to contribute and get involved, when many don’t.
It is too easy to forget in political times such as these, that we can make a difference, in fact we must. Each on of us must be our own heroes, we must give without hope of receiving, we must do what we didn’t think we could, we must take the first step even if we don’t know what the next step is.
Thank you John. Thank you Rob. I’ve still got more crying to do at the ending of this team but I am so grateful to have spent time on the side lines with people who have become friends, watching our sons fly, watching them have fun, watching time pass and watching them grow in to the kind of young men our world needs. You have done something to be really proud of. You are inspirations.
We need more everyday heroes like you.